I wake up around 7:00. After a quick breakfast and before going to school, I check if my rabbits need water or feed.
Then I run across the fields to the main road to catch the bus to the technical school about half an hour away. I want to become a mechanical engineer.
Back from school
As soon as I get home from school, I climb the stairs that lead to the room where the FAO extension officers and government experts helped us install a breeding battery. We also got three female and one male rabbits.
The room is quite dark. We keep the blinds closed with just a small slit so the rabbits are not disturbed by too much light. Rabbits should be treated like babies - with tender loving care. They are mainly fed with scraps from the table, which is a convenient and cheap way to feed them.
We started raising rabbits a year-and-a half ago. My dad encouraged me to take care of them. They require an hour of your time every day. My mom or our neighbours watch the rabbits when I am at school or busy doing other things.
When I started raising rabbits, the first female had 10 offsprings. But they got infected with an illness similar to chicken pox, with blood coming out of their mouths. Immediately, we called a vet, who advised culling. We had to start again.
I am not only interested in rabbits. During my free time, I look after three goats and a sheep, which I bought from money I earned selling some rabbits.
Unlike my rabbits, which would die if they were raised outdoors, my goats wander around in the surrounding fields. And on special occasions, they also contribute to improving our diet, although I somehow feel bad about eating my companions!
Currently, we have 14 rabbits. The FAO vet taught us to take good care of them, to vaccinate on a regular basis, to enrich their feed with vitamins, keep their hutches very clean at all times and things like that. Each female delivers four or five litters every nine to ten months. In other words, with one male and three females, you can get, ten months later, around 100 rabbits. The breed is a heat tolerant V-line, a mix of New-Zealand White and Egyptian Baladi. The mortality rate is low. I usually wait until the rabbits are two months old to sell them. The best marketing age is two-and-a-half months.
Tuesday and Wednesday are market days in the nearby town of Fayum. There, I get around 20 pounds (US$3.50) for each rabbit. I am very happy to make my own money. It pays for my school fees and for buying vegetables and fruit from the market.
We plant some varieties of vegetables on our piece of land. But we usually buy tomatoes, potatoes and onions from the market.
Fluffy toys and pompoms
In addition to rabbits improving our diet and increasing our income, their fur is used for other purposes. One of my mother's hobbies is to make small carpets and fluffy toys out of the white fur. She also makes pompoms to decorate the clothes of my three-year-old cousin Wissam, as you can see here.
A delicious meal
On Eid el-Adha and other special occasions, we replace chicken with rabbit meat in mulukhiyeh, a rich and delicious meal that all Egyptian families enjoy eating.
Every day, I thank God and ask Him to keep my rabbits in good health. In a way, they brought us good luck, in addition to extra money and better nutrition.
I would like to install additional rabbit breeding batteries. According to FAO, the total cost of a battery is around 650 pounds (US$115).
I can afford it now though I don't know how much money I've made since I started raising rabbits. Maybe I should take some lessons in bookkeeping. Do you know a good accountancy school?